#infocomm19: Single-channel retail is dead

Single-channel commerce is dying, and companies in retail – and other – sectors need to adapt to that new reality, according to speakers at Infocomm 2019.

Speaking this week at the event in Orlando, Florida, Cactus founder Noah Waxman told visitors, “Retail is not dying. Boring retail is dying.”

But he cautioned that consumers have a far less rigid view of what and where retail should be than many retailers understand.

“Don’t think about retail in a silo. It will blend into all types of physical environment,” he said. Cactus, a design agency, was founded with the objective of blending physical spaces with new technology in innovative ways.

Waxman’s co-presenter at Infocomm was Healey Cypher, CEO of transactional kiosk developer Zivelo and a former head of retail innovation at eBay.

He pointed out that many retailers understand that change is needed for future strategies, but that they often look to the wrong technologies for a solution. He added, for example, that the average number of new mobile apps downloaded each month by consumers is zero. “They are not going to download your app,” he told the audience.

But technology can yield unexpected benefits. Zivelo is behind the kioks used by quick service restaurant (QSR) brands such including McDonald’s. It finds that customers who use kiosks – rather than ordering from a traditional counter – tend to spend between 20-30 per cent more per order.

This increase is partly explained by people being less conscious of upsizing meals, but also by them taking longer to explore the menu, because they are not concerned that people are in a queue behind them, says Cypher.

Both speakers agreed that retail spaces will feature more technology in the future – but they did not believe that stores must simply imitate transactional websites, pointing out that ‘pureplay’ online brands are increasingly opening physical stores.

“It’s not just a bunch of screens in your face,” said Cypher. “The stores will just come alive around you.”